Skipper Bologna rolled into Group E of the Top 16 with a big home victory on Thursday, holding back visiting Barcelona 97-93 behind 25 points from Andrea Meneghin on his biggest night of the season. Skipper broke open a tight game early in the second quarter, but Barcelona stayed within striking range the whole game. The visitors were within three, at 91-88, with just over a minute to play, when Meneghin nailed the three-pointer that capped his big night. After Juan Carlos Navarro stuck his own triple for Barca to come within two, 95-93, Gregor Fucka grabbed the offensive rebound and nailed the free throws to seal it for Skipper. In addition to Meneghin, Emilio Kovacic added 18 points for the winners, Davor Marcelic 16, Anthony Goldwire 15 and Gregor Fucka 13. Barcelona was paced by J.C. Navarro with 23 points, Ademola Okulaja with 15 points, Alain Digbeu with 14, Nacho Rodriguez with 11 and Roberto Dueñas with 10. Skipper starts off in Group E at 1-0 and tied with Benetton while Barcelona is 0-1 with Scavolini.
The first meaningful lead went for Barcelona, led by veteran guard Nacho Rodriguez, who ran the show to a 10-5 lead that included a three-pointer by Alain Digbeu. Everything would start coming in threes for both teams soon enough. Davor Marcelic sank his own long one for Skipper, then Andrea Meneghin was fouled attempting another and made three foul shots. Meneghin then connected from the corner to tie it 14-14. And the triple party was only starting. Rodriguez answered in kind for a 14-17 Barca lead, but Marcelic tied it up once again at 17 on a single shot. It was Okulaja's turn now from downtown for Barca, which combined with Rodrigo De la Fuente's fastbreak layup put the visitors up 17-22. Meneghin was back, however, to hit a great fadeaway and Goldwire took his defender one-on-one for two key points. An Efthimios Rentzias bucket and De la Fuente free throw put Barca up 21-25, but Meneghin and Goldwire ket attacking the hoop until they had 4 more points and a 25-25 tie after 10 minutes.
To open the second quarter, Skipper extended its run to 10-0 thanks to great ball movement as Emilio Kovacic did a fine job on the offensive boards. The hosts led 31-25, but suddenly Anderson Varejao entered for Barca, scored a layup and assisted Juan Carlos Navarro for a triple that almost squared the score at 31-30. Barca had not only resisted Skipper's first attempt to escape, but Navarro now scored a layup good for a 31-32 lead. But Marcelic hit a triple, Fucka made two free throws, while Goldwire and Kovacic added one each as Skipper took back a three-point lead, 38-35. In the final minutes of the half, Fucka had his own mini-run of five points to push the locals to a 51-45 edge entering the locker rooms. By that time, Skipper was ahead 17-8 in rebounds and Barcelona had yet to pull one off the offensive glass.
Digbeu brought Barcelona back in the third quarter, but Fucka attacked the hoop and found the points to save the lead for Skipper. Digbeu and Okulaja soon broke free for three-pointers that brought Barcelona within 60-56, and when Rodriguez added a jumper halfway through the quarter, the lead was down to a single basket. Free throws by Goldwire and Zoran Savic gave Skipper breathing space with which Marcelic nailed a three-pointer to reestablish the maximum lead of the game, 8 points, at 67-59. Rodriguez got four points back himself for Barcelona, but when Skipper had three turnovers in a row, the visitors failed to capitalize. Goldwire nailed a jumper that was good for a 71-64 Skipper advantage after 30 minutes.
Barcelona started the final quarter right, with consecutive baskets by Navarro and De la Fuente that exploited the foul trouble to Fucka and Meneghin, and set the scoreboard at 71-68. The margin hovered there until Meneghin came up with a great four-point play on a deep shot accompanied by Digbeu's fourth foul. A Goldwire basket and two Kovacic foul shots later, Skipper found the maximum lead of the game, 83-73 with 6 minutes to go. Navarro was the catalyst for Barca's comeback, scoring twice on drives in a 3-11 run that brought the visitors within 87-84 with 2:30 to play. When Goldwire missed two free throws and Dueñas sunk both of his, Barcelona was within a point, at 87-86, with 2 minutes let. Two Meneghin free throws and a Basile lay up gave Skipper 5 points to defend, but then Navarro stabbed the defens to make it 91-88. That's when Meneghin rained another three for a 94-88 Skipper lead. Duenas got a layup for Barca, but fouled Basile, who made 1 of 2 free throws with 52 seconds to go. Navarro scored a seven-meter triple over Fucka with 40 seconds to go and it was suddenly 95-93. Kovacic missed the lay up that seemed to give Barcelona a game-tying opportunity, but Fucka grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Karnisovas. AFter a timeout, Fucka made both free throws for the final score of 97-93.
Thursday, February 28, 2002